Finally got around to seeing this (at home). I thought it was a pretty good pastiche of the original STAR WARS, but it lacks the originality and vision to be the cinematic event of the original 1977 movie because it's simply imitating the original -- and with a new cast. But that's okay. Repiloting can be tough especially when your core cast members are only willing or able to do supporting roles and you need to create a new team.
The stuff about Rey being a Mary Sue is stupid and Max Landis has become a tiresome bore, has been for awhile. Rey is notedly not good at everything; she can't negotiate bargains on her scavenged hardware. She nearly smashes the Falcon to bits her first time flying it. She is hopeless in handgun combat. The only reason she defeats Kylo Ren at the end is because Chewie shot him first.
Landis seems to take real issue with Rey knowing how to handle herself in her first fight at the settlement -- as though a young girl living all alone in a hostile environment with no law enforcement or stable society would have made it past puberty without knowing how to fight.
When Kylo Ren first Force-interrogates her, he reaches into her mind and then recoils as though he's being fought back while Rey's fear and helplessness are suddenly replaced with resolve -- his use of the Force in her mind unlocked something he's afraid of and he flees. Rey's instinctive trial and error results in patching the Falcon and using the lightsaber are part of her Force sensitivity guiding her hand.
In the first STAR WARS movie, Luke trusting the Force allowed him to:
(a) block blaster bolts with a lightsaber while BLINDFOLDED
(b) navigate the Death Star and escape with Leia from the cell to the hangar using a jumpline to swing across a chasm
(c) telepathically reach Darth Vader from across the hangar to pause the Obi-Wan/Vader fight to give Luke a last moment with the old man
(d) use the Falcon gun system effectively after a few missed shots despite having never used it before
(e) telepathically communicate with a dead man (Obi-Wan)
(f) fire two torpedos into a tiny ventilation shaft without a computer targeting system.
The original film alone establishes that the Force is fundamentally about its wielders receiving augmented instinct in making physical and strategic choices, trusting the guidance of the Force where knowledge or experience are not available. Force wielders who combine knowledge and experience with the Force become more powerful. While telepathy and telepathy are part of it, the main power of the Force is precognitive awareness of the plot. The original STAR WARS could see the word "Force" replaced with "Plot."
The prequel trilogy shot this to hell by making the Force all about briefly acquiring superstrength and superspeed in short bursts that, if sustained or repeated too much, would exhaust the user along with the telepathy and telekinesis. FORCE AWAKENS returns to the original conception of the Force with Rey.
Rey is shown to struggle, screw up and figure it out due to perseverance / Force sensitivity. Max Landis' whiny rant about Rey strikes me as him inventing evidence to justify an inherent distaste towards a Sabrina Lloyd type actress being portrayed as anywhere near Tom Cruise capable because he has some internal discomfort for female characters who aren't designed to be damsels in distress.
The idea of the Force being a myth is an idea later contradicted by George Lucas' inability to keep his own mythos straight. The Force was an urban legend at best in the original trilogy; in the prequels, Force users are elected government officials.
The Force is not an ancient and obscure religion if your ****ing Senators and Chancellors are levitating spaceships and firing electricity from their fingertips. The script for AWAKENS takes a careful middle ground -- everything is known -- the Death Star run, the mind control, the levitation -- but not necessarily believed, which, given the crazy propaganda machine of the Empire and the devastation of the original trilogy war, is not unreasonable.
Slider_Quinn21 adopting Landis' absurd and provably false views strikes me as SQ21 (a) having a fuzzy memory of how Force powers worked and (b) having no memory of what Han actually said about the Force in the first STAR WARS (c) not noticing how the prequels contradicted Han's dialogue and (d) putting Max Landis on a pedestal, just as he puts me and Informant on a pedestal he shouldn't.
In my view, Informant is a skillful writer who does not pay as much attention as he might to reader satisfaction, ireactions is at best a pastiche artist with a self-mocking sense of humour and a willingness to buy story ideas when he can't come up with his own -- and Slider_Quinn21 needs to review Landis' material and consider it in the course of forming Slider_Quinn21's own opinion -- as opposed to defaulting to the assumption that Landis is never wrong, especially when Landis demonstrates not only poor familiarity with STAR WARS but with THE FORCE AWAKENS as well.
Chewie had SHOT Kylo Ren, for god's sake -- Kylo was desperately trying to shove his internal organs into shape during the fight with Rey. Landis has gone from being a capable firebrand to a tedious dullard in just four years and it's sad to see and his issues with women are further in that absurd 2013 interview.
The film has a lot of weaknesses and the weaknesses are primarily due to using the original STAR WARS as a stencil, recreating the flaws of the original without the originality of the original. The main problem, I'd say, is that Rey's journey from uncertain scavenger to Resistance warrior is not the main focus of the story due to the necessity to set up Finn and Poe and also bring in Han, Leia and Chewie as a nod to the original trilogy.
There are moments that could be highlighted further, like Kylo telling Rey that she waits for nothing on her home planet and her family will not return, using the Force to destroy her belief system. At one point, Kylo says Rey sees Han as a father figure, a baffling remark considering they only spent a few hours together.
Poe Dameron disappears for most of the film and it's hard to relate to strongly to him, meaning the aerial battle of AWAKENS is a token segment and of no real importance. AWAKENS, being a pastiche of the first STAR WARS movie, is still stuck in a world where there is inexplicably no means of data transmission; all data must be ferried in hard media carried in droids because the Internet didn't exist in 1977 and is being ignored in 2015.
But it's fun. It captures the same fun of the original. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have great and instant chemistry. After the bloated self-importance of the prequels, it's nice to get back to FLASH GORDON whizbang -- but I hope that now that STAR WARS has repiloted, we can innovate and expand. Maybe the next STAR WARS movie will have the Internet.